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Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian with Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,793 ratings  ·  220 reviews
The author of the New York Times bestselling Look Me in the Eye returns to help Aspergians, and even ordinary geeks, embrace being different and fix the things that hold them back in life.

With his usual honesty, dry wit, and unapologetic eccentricity, John Robison argues that Asperger's is about difference, not disability. In this book he offers stories from his own life a
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Published March 22nd 2011 by Random House Audio (first published January 1st 2011)
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I finished Be Different almost a month ago, but I’ve been thinking about it all this time, trying to decide what to write. Robison’s latest book is as well-written and entertaining as his first book, Look Me In the Eye. I think I’ve hesitated to write about Be Different because I see so much of myself in the anecdotes. I see more of my son, which makes sense, as he’s been diagnosed with Asperger’s, but there’s a lot of me in there, too. Even having acknowledged several months ago that I have som ...more
I felt affirmed by this book, and the highlights I made in the Kindle version are going to be handy bookmarks to remind myself of the author's advice about improving my social awareness. All of us in my family are "Aspergians" to different extents, and the more I read makes me realize that my mother also is on the spectrum, which made it difficult for me to get n-typical feedback about how to get by when I was growing up. Books like these from the "autism speaks" community (including Temple Gran ...more
Having an aspergers son, I found it very helpful in pointing out lots of things too small and detaled to go into here, but it gave me a further insight into how aspie kids view the world and its social rules. The author, Being an undiagnosed aspie until he grew up, realised he was different and learned to copy and follow and cope. More than that he listened to the things that attracted him and made a career for himself. Descriptive, and matter of fact, it's well written and takes you inside the ...more
Ashley Kelley
This book gives the first hand account of what it was like growing up with Asperger's syndrome before the diagnosis even existed. Robinson, diagnosed with AS at the age of 40, looks at things like fitting in, manners, dating, bullies, emotions and sensory overload (to name a few topics) and how it is different for him compared to those without AS - or "neurotypicals". He also gives advice and tips for how to be successful. As a mother of a teenager with Aspergers, this biography was touching, in ...more
Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian by John Elder Robison is a treasure-for people on the autism spectrum, their friends, families, teachers, and, maybe, for everyone interested in the different ways people are wired in this world and how that feels from the inside. It is also, I suspect, a useful self-help book, a sharing from one person on the spectrum to others who might want to figure out how better to live in a neurotypical world with some degree of comfort and happiness.


“For anyone who has difficulty fitting in, this book is fantastic.”
—Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures

“In a love poem to his wife, Pedro Salinas, the Spanish poet, wrote, ‘Glory to the differences / between you and me.’ John Robison teaches us to celebrate differences
like Salinas did, but also offers clear insight and valuable advice on how to cope with the challenges that being different can create. This book transcends the specific case of Asperger’s syndrome and is a less

I'm an Aspie-loving Momma who feels this book must be read by anyone who is personally impacted by Asperger's Syndrome - as the Aspie, as a teacher, or as a family member. It was tremendously insightful to peek into the reasoning of an Aspergian as a tool toward understanding. I have begged my daughter to read it due to the continuing thread throughout the book that an Aspie is truly capable of more than the average individual if depression or discouragement is overcome. Through relating and ack ...more
A book written directly for people with Aspergers and their parents and teachers, to explain how neurotypical people use social skills that can be learned to have satisfying productive lives. The author shares many of his life stories with his thoughts and reactions and how others perceived them. Then he describes when he decided to work on each of his skills and how he went about it.
Short chapters move the book along quickly. The stories generally show that the repeated efforts of others faile
Good overall content, but author fails to acknowledge female readers. I didn't expect him to offer dating advice for girls the way he does for boys because he, after all, had never been a girl. It would be nice, however, if he didn't alienate female readers entirely in those moments he talked about "girls"--and there were a lot of them--especially since this book was purported to function as a "guide" for all Aspergians and misfits, which I presumed to include females as well as males. His son's ...more
Be Different is the second book by American author and Aspergian, John Elder Robison. When his memoir, Look Me In The Eye: My life With Asperger’s became a publishing success, no-one was more surprised than Robison himself. When it began to be adopted by certain schools, Robison was asked for a book with more insight into the condition, and Be Different is the result. In this book, Robison looks at the quirks of the Aspergian brain that can lead to disability or expertise, depending on how they ...more
Our family has struggled with more problems getting help for my son than will fit in this box. Finally, after he had serious enough issues, he was hospitalized this Spring. There, we received a very helpful diagnosis: Asperger's Syndrome. It made so much sense. At 12 years old, even he, felt a sense of relief. This book adds something else to that relief: hope and inspiration. This is a must read for parents of children on the Spectrum. Robison asserts that life gets easier for Aspergians as the ...more
Ann LaBar
This is a very readable. The personal stories are at times very funny which makes what could be an uncomfortable subject to some approachable. The advice and insights into Aspberger Syndrome are extremely helpful. I have given a copy to my Aspberger daughter and very likely Aspberger husband to read. I think this book arrived at the right time for my teenaged daughter who is having a horrific time making friends. The message that life for someone with Aspbergers only gets better and better with ...more
So, this was by an aspergian. Let me tell you, reading through it, half the stuff, like how to deal with other people, he could have learned from reading Dale Carnegie. I'm glad to hear that having a diagnosis for his behavioral differences made him feel better about himself, but it seems that he lived his life to the fullest without the diagnosis, and having found out earlier might have changed the way he lived his life, hence he would not have made the strides that he did. I also felt that he ...more
Eh. I wasn't impressed by either the advice given or the writer's description of his life with autism spectrum disorder. Granted, he grew up in the 1970s, but his problems with girls seemed to be based in objectifying girls rather than Aspbergers (seriously, why do guys, no matter how geeky, neuro-atypical, awkward or socially inept, only want to approach the PRETTY girls? Why do they all feel they deserve cheerleaders and never look for the girls who are themselves geeky or awkward? It's really ...more
Great book! I just finished it, despite not having read his first one, Look Me in the Eye. I plan on reading that one soon.
I'm a fifteen-year-old with AS, and I really took a lot from this book. Several things he described pertained to my symptoms of AS perfectly, such as the dislike of certain sounds when other people made them, but being fine when he made them. This is me exactly. I found it very insightful, and it gave me immense hope for my future and my occupation after having problems with
This book goes a long way towards helping a “nypical” (his coinage – short for neurotypical) person understand the inner workings – not to mention the unique gifts (at least potentially) – of an Aspergian mind. They also provide fascinating insight into how even an undiagnosed Aspergian can, when personally motivated, teach himself how to adapt and cope in a world that expects nypical behavior.

Reading Robison's articulate account of how his mind works -- and how those workings translate into be
Naomi Young
Go get this and read this. I don't care WHO you are.

I really didn't mean to read this book in one sitting, but I did, give or take a few pages.

Robison lays out, in clear and simple prose, what his life has been like, and especially how the traits and tendencies he has due to Asperger's Syndrome have shaped his life. Most especially, he shares how those traits have led to his success, rather than simply sharing the problems he has needed to overcome to be more like everybody else. This is somet
This book provided what I was looking for in Look Me in the Eye by the same author. The stories coupled with insights into Asperger's Syndrome were invaluable to my understanding. Although I did not get what I expected from his memoir, it was good that I read it first so that I had background coming into this book. I'm sure my experience would have been different otherwise, but I can't say how much.

There were a few times I tuned out a little while he talked about technical aspects of his special
Rachel Lein
I was pretty much done with Robison after reading "Look Me in the Eye". He writes well, but there are things about him that rub me the wrong way. However, my mother-in-law dropped this book off with me and insisted I read it, so I did.

I don't see how this book is all that helpful to anyone with Asperger's or autism or the people in their lives. Robison throws some "advice" in once in a while, but most of what this book is is more of him talking about the things he's done in his life. I don't be
Erin Duffy
To be fair, I read this right after "Look Me in the Eyes" which is one of the best biographies I have ever read. It was so charming and fresh. So when I read this book, which is very good, but more straightforward and less entertaining, I rated it lower than it probably deserves. I liked the advice at the end of the book the most. I am changing my stars to 4.
Ian Phelps
This book is an autobiography on John Elder Robison. He tells his story about growing up with aspergers, a higher form of autism. Autism is a disability in the brain where you can function as a nirmal human being in most cases but lack social understandings and logics. Autistic people often look normal, but are socially awkward at many moments. Robison shares a lot of autistic moments and how he coped with school and life.
I Rated this book a five because this book relates a lot to my life and
I really liked his first book, Look Me in the Eye, but this one was just okay. I think it would be great for someone that is autistic or has Asperger's, or has a child with it. It is mostly about his experiences with it and sort of a handbook on how to handle it.
I have a lot in common with this guy, but that makes sense considering certain diagnoses. Reading this is like talking to a friend, lots of, "ha! yeah, me too". Plus he is funny.
This is a very informative and entertaining book about life with Asperger's. Robison is a very intelligent man and talented writer who provides some valuable insight about the differences in how his mind works. I also enjoyed this book because I relate to many of the differences he writes about. I can't say that I am actually on the spectrum, but I have experienced many of the same struggles that many people on the spectrum experience, and I see them every day in the youth with autism who I work ...more
Clear basic guide to the author's life with Aspergers.
I am a parent to a diagnosed Aspergian, and girlfriend of an undiagnosed one. This book gave me more insight into why each does what they do, likely ways they think, and tips for how to respond to their individual quirks. I have a much better understanding of my son, and better ideas now how to help him as he steps into the adult world (he was diagnosed at 15, and just graduated high school).

John does an amazing job explaining why he does the things he does, and how he began to understand why h
I really enjoyed this book. There were laugh-out-loud funny moments for me (see the chapter on "Lobster Claws"). There were also a lot of "ah HA" moments; I recognized certain aspects of my own so-called "different" mannerisms.

I don't know if I have Asperger's, but it's something I've considered. Some of my mannerisms are nowhere near as extreme as the ones he described. The parts about extreme focus on narrow topics and straightforward, innocent self-absorption rang a bell with me. He's been ac
Jun 20, 2011 Anna rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: audio
John Elder Robison didn’t learn why he was different until he was 40 years old when he was diagnosed with Asperger’s. By then, he was already a successful businessman with a family and a history of mechanical wizardry including designing exploding guitars for the band, KISS. I really enjoyed Look Me In The Eye - his memoir about growing up with Asperger's but not knowing that he had it. Be Different is a bit more practical. Robison gives advice for anyone who is different, e.g. dealing with bull ...more
I started reading this book to gain a deeper understanding of Asperger's for reasons both personal and professional. As an educator, I especially appreciate the author's efforts to explain his shortcomings in school and his helpful appendix for teachers and parents. He used the unique tactic of placing the medical definition of Asperger's at the end of the book to highlight the fact that truly understanding someone with the condition is more about experience than medical jargon. Although it migh ...more
Laura Cushing
My library only had this available on audiobook, but I am counting it as a book I read anyhow because listening to and reading a book are close enough. This book by John Elder Robison, author of Look Me in the Eye, is a practical guide for those who are living with aspergers either in themselves or in someone they love. It would also be good for teachers. He gives tips on how to compensate for some of the troubles we have with things, and how to make your strengths really count. He gives advice ...more
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I was born in rural Georgia, where my dad worked as a country preacher. I was kind of a misfit growing up. In fact, the bigger I got, the more misfit I became. At age 8, I got a little brother, and he was a misfit too. I dropped out of school in 10th grade, and never looked back. My brother dropped out a few years later, following in my footsteps.

I've had a number of careers . . . I designed sound
More about John Elder Robison...
Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's Raising Cubby: A Father and Son's Adventures with Asperger's, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening Schau mich an! Mein Leben mit Asperger The Science of Making Friends: Helping Socially Challenged Teens and Young Adults

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“It does not matter what sixty-six percent of people do in any particular situation. All that matters is what you do.” 11 likes
“Simply making myself aware of others has remarkably improved my social life. People accept me much faster now that I ignore them less.” 7 likes
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